Dear Savvy Auntie,

I have a beautiful niece about to turn 21 who has everything going for her - brains, social skills, looks, compassion, empathy, ambition. The problem is she has a boyfriend who she has had for five years now who is not who I want to see her with. He is already not welcome at family functions at her grandparents, her parents don't welcome him, he isn't going to school, and all he does is drink and party.

I've been reserving my opinion of him hoping she would grow tired of him, but now she says she wants to live with him! I want to tell her how I feel about him, and that I don't want to see her set herself up for a hard life. Do I do this? What do I say? I'm so worried.

Worried Auntie

Dear Worried Auntie,

Hush! Do not tell her how you feel about her boyfriend; she has many family members telling her, to no avail. What you can do is talk to her about what she and her boyfriend did when they went out, what programs they watch on T.V., and what they had for dinner. Your interest and acceptance will melt some of the rebellion aspect of her attraction.
It is a very common phenomena that people, males and females, who are sturdy, stable, and successful, are attracted to someone who drinks, drugs, parties, and is irresponsible. It is a way for the “sterling one” to vicariously experience the darker side of life without tarnishing their person. It is natural, it can start as early as three or four years old and without too much negative energy from the family will dissipate. Your niece is finding  and forming herself as an adult and she needs your support, not your judgment and criticism.
Living together and dealing with her boyfriend’s ways may do the job naturally.
Best of Luck,
Natalie Robinson Garfield

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